Thus far we have come through the winter, on this bleak and blasty shore…
Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1856 (Southport, Lancashire)
It is New Year’s Eve and all sorts of distractions are on offer to numb the passage of time, all of them alcohol-based, naturally. The forced conviviality is not to everyone’s taste, of course – some prefer to feel the time slipping from them, and others, wising up, prefer to celebrate on New Year’s Day when prices are cheaper and the dance floor more manageable.
I have spent New Year’s Eve in various states of drunkenness at various parties, most of which were utterly forgettable, and not just because of the alcohol. Precisely two were enjoyable in their own right – 2000, when I was on a tall ship with a drunken crew moored in front of the Dogana in Venice; and 1994, when I saw eighty-four pianists play Rhapsody in Blue in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo (enjoyable not for the pianos but for the dancing in the rain that followed). The rest were rubbish. Now I mostly just drink whisky and read a book and have an actual pleasant time.
However, there is not only the feeling of a year dying, but also in a small way of a corner turned, in celebration of which I offer this short film of a stegosaurus being pieced back together at the Natural History Museum in London where it has just been acquired – it is the most complete skeleton of the creature extant, albeit of a juvenile (it is roughly half the length tip to tail of the largest 9m specimens).